Dan Feldman

Report: Some Bulls believe Jimmy Butler gets preferential treatment

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Jimmy Butler flew separately from his Bulls teammates for last night’s game against the Pelicans. It was called a family issue, and Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said Butler’s travel was approved.

Butler started and had 23 points in 11 assists in a Bulls win.

So why did anyone care how Butler got to New Orleans?

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Some players, and I’m not saying it wasn’t a family commitment, but there were some – I know at least one player in particular, a starter – who felt like he was a bit bothered by the fact that Jimmy wasn’t on the plane. And it was a misperception. He felt it was emblematic of a little bit of the preferential treatment that a lot of people say Butler’s been getting now that he’s emerged as the best players on the Bulls from the front office and things like that.

There’s a division. There’s all types of dysfunction in Chicago. There’s kind of a division in that locker room.

The younger players see Butler as the leader. He’s clearly been their best player the last two years. They see him as the leader.

The other guys, the veterans who’ve been there, it’s not so much of disrespect of Jimmy, but they don’t see him as the team as the team leader. They remember when you were averaging two points a game.

The Bulls have at least one problem, maybe two:

  • Butler receives too much preferential treatment.
  • His teammates are so paranoid about Butler, they accuse him of receiving preferential treatment when he doesn’t.

In many circumstances, it’s not unusual for a player to travel separately when personal matters arise. Obviously, it’s impossible to judge this specific case without more information.

But Butler deserves some preferential treatment – like a high salary. He’s Chicago’s best player, and he should be treated as such. That doesn’t mean he should be above the rules, but there’s nothing wrong with the team allowing him concessions not made to others. His teammates shouldn’t resent some preferential treatment (like salary and media opportunities).

That gets complicated with Derrick Rose on the roster. He was the best Bull until injuries took a toll, though he’s still the team’s highest-paid player and point guard – statuses that naturally lend themselves to leadership. How does the team conform to both Rose and Butler?

This is why re-signing Joakim Noah might not be such a hot idea. Though Noah’s leadership deserves praise, it could naturally undermine Butler’s. Every player knows Noah as a leader. Some seem to be unsure about Butler.

Of course, if Butler is a poor leader even to the young players who look at him, that’s a whole other can of worms. But even if that’s the case, Butler can still grow into the role – if he gets a chance from his bothered teammates.

Maybe Butler needs to earn that opportunity. But I think, just as much, if not more, some of his teammates need to become more open to it.

2016 PBT Awards: Executive of the Year

LaMarcus Aldridge, right, is presented his new jersey by San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford, left, during a news conference at the team's practice facility as he is formally introduced after he signed with the San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball team, Friday, July 10, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Kurt Helin

1. R.C. Buford

2. Neil Olshey

3. Stan Van Gundy

This award feels like it’s often won the previous July, and that’s when the Buford won this — he had created the flexibility to bring in a max player, then he went out and convinced LaMarcus Aldridge to come home to Texas. The Spurs just keep on being the Spurs. A number of other executives had good years, but Olshey deserves credit for putting together a roster that works in Portland, and SVG is building something for the future in Detroit that could be very good.

Sean Highkin

1. Neil Olshey

2. R.C. Buford

3. Pat Riley

Olshey lost four starters, including LaMarcus Aldridge, and somehow the Blazers are still in position to get the fifth seed in the Western Conference. He signed good role players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis to reasonable contracts and reshaped the roster around Damian Lillard without sacrificing future flexibility. Buford got Aldridge, re-signed Danny Green for below market value and somehow convinced David West to take the minimum, while making solid in-season additions like Kevin Martin and Andre Miller. Riley deserves a lot of credit for his moves on the fringes, including finding Josh Richardson in the second round and signing Joe Johnson and now Dorell Wright during the year.

Dan Feldman

1. R.C. Buford

2. Neil Olshey

3. Stan Van Gundy

Buford lured LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, who haven’t even felt the downside of clearing cap space to sign him. That’s because Buford convinced Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and David West to accept below-market deals and Kawhi Leonard to delay signing his max contract. Buford also unearthed Boban Marjanovic and added Kevin Martin and Andre Miller after buyouts. As far as producing immediate results – which the aging Spurs needed – this was an all-time great year by a general manager.

On the flip side, Olshey lost Aldridge but showed an impressive ability to reinvent on the fly. He locked up Damian Lillard on a long-term extension that is somehow slightly less than the 30% max if Lillard makes an All-NBA team and surrounded his new franchise player with similarly aged talent. Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis signed reasonable deals, and Mason Plumlee and Maurice Harkless came fairly cheap in trades. Even while building this younger playoff team after also losing Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo in free agency and trading Nicolas Batum (for good value in Noah Vonleh), Olshey left open enough cap room to add a first-round pick in exchange for taking Anderson Varejao before the trade deadline. This is why someone like the Hornets’ Rich Cho didn’t make my list. Not only did Olshey help his team’s competitiveness this season, he improved its long-term outlook.

Van Gundy made the heist of the season when he got Tobias Harris without giving up a draft pick or core player, and Marcus Morris also gave the Pistons value on their cap space. Reggie Jackson and Aron Baynes have also lived up to their initially criticized contracts. Plus, Van Gundy convinced Andre Drummond not to accept a contract extension, which will give the Pistons millions of extra cap space next summer. Van Gundy slightly edged Pat Riley, who nailed both his draft picks (Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson), navigated tricky free agencies with Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic, got the Heat under the luxury-tax line and lured Joe Johnson after his buyout.

Report: NBA expected to approve advertising on jerseys

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks before the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP
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Adam Silver has repeatedly called advertising on NBA jerseys inevitable.

Now – after facing numerous obstacles – the commissioner is on the verge of being proven correct.

Brian Windhorst and Darren Rovell of ESPN:

NBA owners are scheduled to vote this week on putting ads on jerseys for the 2017-18 season, multiple sources told ESPN.

The measure is expected to pass, according to sources. Several teams have begun testing the market to sell the potentially lucrative ads, which would be placed in a 2.5-by-2.5-inch patch on the left shoulder.

The initial proposal to owners was for teams to keep 50 percent of the sponsorship money from the jersey ads and for 50 percent to be added to the revenue-sharing pool for all teams.

The NBA recently signed new national television and apparel deals where the ads were part of the negotiations. In 2017, Nike will take over from Adidas as the league’s uniform provider when the ads are expected to debut.

Like most, I don’t like the idea of advertising on NBA jerseys – or advertising creeping into any facet of my life. But the NBA should not operate based on my comfort. The NBA is a business that should attempt to maximize profit, which also benefits players thanks to their salaries being tied to revenue.

That doesn’t necessarily make these ads wise, though.

Will the ads diminish the prestige of the NBA? Will the ads cause fans to buy fewer jerseys? Will potential sponsors pay teams’ asking price for the ads? Will sponsors spend new money on the ads rather than diverting money already spent on the NBA?

These are practical, not philosophical, concerns.

If NBA teams feel they have found suitable answers to those questions, more power to them.

There’s also the issue of how they split up their money, but a 50-50 split – after the players’ cut, I presume – between keeping and sharing seems reasonable.

That said, the measure hasn’t officially passed. Lottery reform looked inevitable until enough owners reversed course late in the process to vote it down. If anyone has reservations about jersey advertising – or, more likely, this specific plan for jersey advertising – now is the time to convince owners.

But as Silver has said, it seems inevitable.

Report: Jason Kidd ‘on shaky ground’ with Bucks

Jason Kidd
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Some of the Bucks owners reportedly aren’t sold on Jason Kidd.

How’s that going for the coach/de facto general manager?

Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times:

I’m told Kidd, who was brought to Milwaukee by one of the team’s tri-majority owners and close friend, Marc Lasry, hasn’t endeared himself to the rest of the Bucks’ ownership group. Some think Kidd’s arrogant, some think his heart isn’t into coaching and are miffed he took off a portion of the season for hip surgery when he could have done it in the offseason. Some, most importantly, question his coaching acumen and his player personal decision-making.

I’ve also been told by people close to the Bucks’ situation that Kidd, once the golden boy of the organization, is now on shaky ground.

several NBA sources contend Hammond will soon be relocating to another zip code — either being fired or leaving on his own volition.

Talk among some league officials is Hammond will end up in perhaps a similar position with New Orleans.

It’s unsurprising the Bucks are considering such a major shakeup. They fell from 41-41 last season to 33-48 this year, their defense – an aggressive, trapping scheme engineered by Kidd – falling off a cliff. The step back is understandable, considering the team dumped reliable veterans to get younger players with more upside. But it doesn’t seem they internally understood the tradeoff they were making, which would indicate a flawed process. Kidd has been chasing experience on the floor all season.

If his personality or hip surgery grated owners, Kidd put his job in jeopardy by his performance.

He put together much of this team – trading for poor-shooting Michael Carter-Williams, signing ill-fitting Greg Monroe and dumping veterans like Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia and Ersan Ilyasova. If ownership isn’t sold on Kidd, now could be time to make a change – especially if he wants to move officially into the front office.

Actual general manager John Hammond is reportedly under contract through next season. If ousted, he could work under Joe Dumars with the Pelicans. Hammond served in Dumars’ Pistons front office before leaving to run Milwaukee.

Keeping Hammond could allow Kidd more time to prove himself as a coach. But if Hammond is also headed out, it makes it harder simply to reduce Kidd’s responsibilities.

Wholesale change becomes more logical.

The Bucks have plenty of talent in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Khris Middleton and even Monroe and Carter-Williams. Whomever is in charge next season has a nice base.

The big question: Will it be Kidd?

2016 PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) tangles with San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard (2) and Kevin Martin during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 87-79. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
AP Photo/Darren Abate
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The end of the NBA season is here, and if we at NBC’s ProBasketballTalk had ballots in front of us, here is how we’d vote for NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Kurt Helin

1. Kawhi Leonard

2. Draymond Green

3. DeAndre Jordan

Kawhi Leonard won the award last year and the only question was “did he play enough games.” That’s not a debate this year. He is locking guys down on the perimeter and is key to the best defense in the NBA. Draymond Green and his versatility earns second place. Third is DeAndre Jordan, who became a much better defender within the team system this season and is finally living up to the hype Doc Rivers has been selling for a couple seasons.

Sean Highkin

1. Kawhi Leonard

2. Draymond Green

3. DeAndre Jordan

Dan Feldman

Defensive Player of the Year

1. Kawhi Leonard

2. Draymond Green

3. Rudy Gobert

The final spot was the only tough call, and it came down to Gobert, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut and DeAndre Jordan. Duncan and Bogut are the best defenders of the four, but they also played the least – meaning they impacted the fewest defensive possessions. Jordan, a greatly improved defender, deserves credit for taking such a large load. Gobert, who missed significant time due to injury is a better defender than Jordan on a per-possession basis, is the middle-ground choice. Pick any of the four, and I wouldn’t object.

The next problem: Because they’re all centers, I’ll have to parse the other three again for the All-Defensive second team.